Accords

International Accords, Labels, and Agreements

An accreditation accord is a mutual recognition agreement by which two or more accrediting bodies agree to recognize the accreditation credentials of each other. If program A was declared accredited until 2027 by Accrediting Body x and if both Accrediting Body x and Accrediting Body y are members of the same accreditation accord then Accrediting Body y will also consider program A accredited until 2027. An example is the Washington Accord for engineering degree programs, which has about 20 members at present.   

Several accords have been signed over the last half century on accreditation in engineering, engineering technology and computing. They have been gaining new members every decade since they were first established.

Certain coalitions of accrediting bodies have given their members (which are accrediting agencies) authorization to award a label to their accredited engineering degree programs. The label is a certificate of quality awarded to degree programmes in Engineering. The best known of those is the EUR-ACE label (EURopean- ACcredited Engineer) authorized to members of the European Network for Accreditation of Engineering Education (ENAEE).

In addition, labels have been developed which help provide guidelines for program content and structure, and can be awarded by those accrediting bodies which agree and are deemed able to apply the label to their accredited programs.

Over the years there have been many meetings and declarations that have helped advance the current state of global engineering and computing program accreditation. The best known among these is the Bologna Declaration, a joint declaration of the European Ministers of Education, stating their intent to harmonize academic accreditation processes over a wide geographical area encompassing most of the continent of Europe.  

The motivation behind these accords, labels, and events is the growing desire to ascertain that degrees of graduates from programs in one country or region are recognized in another. Nevertheless most of the accreditation accords are still  between accrediting bodies, not between countries.

International Accords

Dublin Accord

The Dublin Accord is an agreement for the international recognition of engineering technician qualifications. Four national engineering organizations (UK, Ireland, Canada, and South Africa) agreed on the mutual recognition of qualifications for engineering technician titles. The resulting accord operates in the same way as the Washington and Sydney Accords, and has subsequently included additional signers.

Lima Accord

The Lima Accord is a multilateral agreement amongst Latin American and Caribbean organizations that are responsible for the voluntary accreditation of undergraduate engineering programs within their respective jurisdictions. Signatories are committed to the development and recognition of good practices in the delivery of engineering programs and have decided to work together so that once their programs obtain accreditation, the substantial equivalence of these programs can be recognized amongst the signatory agencies.

Seoul Accord

Under the initiative and leadership of six Founding Signatories-ABEEK (Republic of Korea), ABET Inc. (USA), ACS (Australia), BCS (United Kingdom), CIPS (Canada) and JABEE (Japan)-the Seoul Accord was launched in 2008 with the aim of establishing mutual recognition of equivalent professional preparation for graduates of educational programs in the Computing and IT-related disciplines accredited by the member agencies, to lead to enhanced mobility of professionals.

Sydney Accord

Pioneered by the Engineering Council of the UK (ECUK) to complement the Washington Accord and signed in 2001, the Sidney Accord recognized the equivalency of degrees for engineering technologists or incorporated engineers in the signatory countries. The outcome is that an engineering technology program which has been approved in one country would be accepted by the other Accord signatories as equivalent to their own accredited engineering technology degree and diploma programs.

Washington Accord

This multinational agreement set in motion the progression toward the mutual recognition of engineering accreditation. Initiated in the UK by the Engineering Council, the Washington Accord, signed in 1989, is an international agreement among bodies responsible for accrediting engineering degree programs. It recognizes the substantial equivalency of programs accredited by those bodies and recommends that graduates of programs accredited by any of the signatory bodies be recognized by the other bodies as having met the academic requirements for entry to the practice of engineering.

Significant Labels

EUR-ACE Label

Under the initiative of ENAEE (European Network for Engineering Accreditation), in Brussels, Belgium, 13 authorised agencies (Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom) signed a Mutual Recognition Agreement, known as the EUR-ACE® Accord, whereby they accepted each other’s accreditation decisions in respect of Bachelor and Master degree programmes which they accredit.

Euro-Inf Quality Label

EQUANIE (European Quality Assurance Network for Informatics Education e.V.) develops criteria and procedures for the evaluation and quality assurance in informatics study programmes and education and awards the Euro-Inf Quality Label via recognized accrediting bodies to degree programmes that comply with the Euro-Inf Framework Standards and Accreditation Criteria.

Other Significant Agreements and Programs

Lisbon Recognition Convention (1997)

This convention promoted the mutual recognition of qualifications without discrimination among European countries. It aimed at affirming that degree holders from one of the UK member countries would be recognized, without qualifications, in any of the other signatory countries. More recently, the Lisbon Recognition Convention Committee set forth their Recommendation on the Recognition of Joint Degrees.

Sorbonne Declaration (1998)

At a key meeting for European educational reform, the four ministers of France, Germany, Italy, and UK proposed a harmonization of “the architecture of the European higher education system through inter-university agreements to remove barriers existing in the overall European degree framework. They proposed a common degree level system for bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. A primary aim was to improve student mobility and employability.

Bologna Declaration (1999)

The Bologna Declaration is the main guiding document of the Bologna process, which was adopted by the ministers of education of 29 European countries in 1999, and affirmed the establishment of three degree levels: bachelors, masters, and doctoral. It supports a European Higher Education Area in which students and graduates move freely between countries, using prior qualifications in one country as acceptable entry requirements for further study in another.

International Professional Engineers Agreement (2001)

Previously known as the Engineers Mobility Forum, the IPEA is a global agreement that allows Chartered Engineers to practice in the countries of other members. This multinational agreement helped lay the groundwork for an international standard of competence for engineering professionals.

Engineering Technologist Mobility Forum (2001)

This international forum was held by the signatories of the Sydney Accord to explore mutual recognition for experienced engineering technologists and to remove artificial barriers to the free movement and practice of engineering technologists amongst their countries.

Prague Communiqué (2001)

The declaration reaffirmed the commitment of the thirty-three European signatory countries to the Bologna Process. They emphasized these action items: to foster lifelong learning, to encourage active participation of students in the process, and to promote the global appeal of the European Higher Education Area. They also set priorities and goals for the coming years.

Salamanca Declaration (2001)

European educational representatives met to discuss and prepare their input for the upcoming Prague meeting of Bologna Process ministers. They developed these principles: autonomy with accountability, education as a public responsibility, research-based higher education, and effective organization of valuable diversity.

Berlin Communiqué (2003)

The Berlin Communiqué reviewed the progress made through the Bologna Process and set the EU Commission goals up to 2005. Educational representatives determined quality as the key need, and stressed the need to develop mutual criteria and methodologies for quality assurance. International cooperation and networking were identified as important objectives.

Graz Declaration (2003)

This major European University Association policy document set forth the formal position of European universities and their priorities for the next phase of the Bologna Process. The Graz Declaration stressed the need to transform the wealth of legislation changes into meaningful academic reform and sought a wider role for European universities on a global scale.

Bergen Conference (2005)

After a mid-term review of the Bologna Process, the participants adopted the overall framework for EHEA qualifications, the degree cycles, and the credit granted. They set a goal for the work to be started by 2007 and set up priorities for the "second half" of the Bologna Process, up to 2010. At this conference, five new members, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, signed the Bologna Accord.

Glasgow Declaration (2005)

At this conference, the European University Association underlined the commitment of the European universities to move the Bologna reforms forward. The declaration stressed the need for balance between competition and cohesion, as well as for governmental support and university implementation of the needed educations improvements. This is the first clear statement addressing the crucial funding issues inherent in the Bologna Process reforms.

London Communiqué (2007)

At this meeting, the Bologna Ministers agreed that the EHEA was significantly closer to realization but that a new Bologna Process would be needed by 2010 to meet the challenges presented by Europe's burgeoning "knowledge society." They established a European Register of Quality Assurance, to be managed by institutions, students, and quality agencies. They reaffirmed the need for strong and autonomous universities and vigorous efforts in fostering the employability of their graduates.